Violent Protest Against New Airport in Nantes, France

VIDEO: Police responded with a torrent of water cannon water, tear gas and stun grenades, as protesters threw rocks, paving stones, bottles, emergency flares, and returned tear gas canisters.

About 25,000 protesters clashed with police in Nantes, France on Saturday in defiance of a project to build a new airport in the city of Notre Dame des Landes (13 miles/26 kilometers away). The protest started peacefully, but clashes broke out as protesters with fireworks, cobblestones, flares, and bottles edged in on a police blockade established near the administrative center.

Three policemen were lightly wounded, and at least four protesters were arrested.

The protesters surrounded the city’s central Petite Hollande square, the latest in a string of demonstrations against the project that is driven by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Away from the main protest, about 1,000 radical environmentalists smashed shop windows and trashed a post office and the local offices of Vinci — the contractor on the airport project in nearby Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

A recent poll reported that 54% of French people are hostile to the project.

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